Jindal unveils O-Care replacement plan

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) released a 26-page plan on Wednesday to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

The plan marks Jindal’s effort to portray himself as a problem-solver ahead of a possible White House run in 2016. The Louisiana governor has already met with GOP bundlers who worked on Mitt Romney’s 2012 run.

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Jindal’s plan repackages conservative healthcare reform ideas that have circulated for years by emphasizing how they would undo ObamaCare. 

In endorsing high-risk pools, health savings accounts, a premium-support model for Medicare and block grants for Medicaid, the proposal strongly echoes past plans by Republican presidential candidates. The 2012 ticket — former Massachusetts Gov. Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — based its healthcare plan on the same ideas. 

The proposed changes to Medicare and Medicaid could substantially reduce federal healthcare spending, but would also cut benefits to a wide swath of Americans. Democrats oppose the plan for this reason, arguing it would alter the government's social contract with the elderly and the poor. 

To transition the healthcare system away from ObamaCare, Jindal would create a $100 billion grant program for states to guarantee coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. The states would have to lower the growth of premium costs in exchange. 

This program would take the place of the Affordable Care Act's various coverage guarantees, allowing states to decide, for example, whether young people under 26 can remain on a parent's plan like current law requires. 

It will be hard for the plan to avoid creating upheaval in the healthcare system, just as the Affordable Care Act did, despite claims to the contrary. 

In Medicare, Jindal would have seniors pay for coverage using a sum of money from the government. This would dramatically change the current system, where beneficiaries are entitled to needed medical care on a fee-for-service basis. 

The proposal would also cut Medicaid spending by block-granting the program. Eliminating the tax preference for employer-based coverage and allowing insurance to be sold across state lines round out the familiar conservative proposals. 

A former state and federal health official, Jindal said his plan would lower healthcare costs, protect the most vulnerable and expand portability and choice in healthcare. 

In a play for conservative voters, he emphasized what it would do to ObamaCare.

“Four years after being enacted into law, ObamaCare’s massive government overreach and higher taxes continue to wreak havoc on the American economy and healthcare system,” the plan says. “The unpopular, unworkable, and misguided law should be repealed in its entirety.”

The advocacy group America Next, which Jindal chairs, published the plan, titled, “The Freedom and Empowerment Plan: The Prescription for Conservative Consumer-Focused Health Reform.”

Democrats criticized Jindal’s plan, and his refusal to accept the expansion of Medicaid under ObamaCare.

Democratic National Committee press secretary Michael Czin highlighted its similarity to Ryan’s budget, and argued that by repealing ObamaCare it would kick millions of people off their current healthcare plans.

“Jindal’s plan is nothing more than a rehash of failed Republican ideas that have been – and will continue to be – rejected by the voters,” he said.

This story was updated at 11:13 a.m.